New Maps of Asia: Precision and Detail for Expanding Businesses

By Cornelia Lichtner and Christopher Guider

Do you know the story of the two newspapers in the former Soviet Union? One was called Pravda or "Truth." The other leading newspaper was Izvestia (usually translated as "News"). There was a famous joke among Russians that while one newspaper hardly ever told the truth, the other almost never featured real news.

Maybe some readers recognize a similarity to the process of choosing the right digital maps as the planning basis for expansions: truth or news? Or, less cynically: high quality or comprehensiveness? Various local providers with higher accuracy but differing standards? Or an international provider with a perhaps less accurate and up-to-date product, but a uniform mapping standard that allows for better combining of multiple maps?

Combining quality, accuracy and comprehensiveness
There is now a GfK GeoMarketing Map Edition available for Russia that not only provides comprehensive coverage and the highest standards of accuracy, but also renders the latest territory status. With administrative and postcode maps for more than 240 countries, the Germany-based company GfK GeoMarketing offers a combination of comprehensive coverage and seamlessly fitting maps rendered in a consistent quality that supports data comparisons across national boundaries.

The Russia map collection is part of the new Asia Map Edition, vintage 2009. The vector maps of Russia fit seamlessly with each other and with every other map edition offered by GfK GeoMarketing and are available in all standard digital map formats. The maps therefore are ready for incorporation into any standard GIS or geomarketing software.

The GfK Russia Map Edition contains more than 20 up-to-date and comprehensive digital maps with postcode and administrative boundaries as well as topographical information including over 107,000 cities. (Click for larger view.)

Seamless and comprehensive coverage

The Russia Edition features more than 20 individual map layers, grouped according to the topic depicted: all of Russia's two-digit postcode areas, administrative maps of the federal districts (Federalny okrug), regions (Subjekt Federazii) and districts (Rajon), as well as many maps with topographic information. Especially noteworthy are the maps depicting over 107,000 cities (attributed with number of inhabitants). There are also maps featuring airports, rivers and water bodies, major roads and the railway network, among others.

Users can move fluidly between maps of individual countries and import their own company and market data. Planning cross-border sales activities between Russia and China, for example, is easily done.

Making maps business-ready with up-to-date postcode boundaries
Regular map updates are essential. Only maps that reflect the latest boundaries allow for error-free analyses. Accurate postcode boundaries are particularly important, because companies often use these to associate their company and market data with the maps.

"An enormous amount of time and effort goes into ensuring that our maps are accurate and up-to-date," explains Klaus Dittmann, head of cartography at GfK GeoMarketing. "This requires communicating with government bodies, postal organizations and other institutions to find out the latest information on any boundary changes. Sometimes there are no official sources or information. In those cases, we rely on our international GfK network and other sources such as NGOs or private companies, which we proof and cross-check against each other. Researching political boundaries in some countries can be tricky due to diplomatic tensions."

Nevertheless, companies, reinsurance providers or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) often need such information on political and administrative borders to plan their operations. Otherwise, users cannot accurately associate their data with the maps.

Dittmann elaborates: "Through vigorous research and cross-checks against multiple sources, we are able to render administrative and postcode boundaries even in less accessible countries. Our long experience and the worldwide GfK network give us a great advantage here. Some of the major challenges in this recent Asia Edition update were countries such as North Korea, Afghanistan, and former Soviet Republics Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. For some of these countries, we are the only map provider."

Official territorial or postal reforms pose another challenge. For example, Japan's municipalities have undergone sweeping reforms in recent years, a process that will ultimately result in a reduction of the approximately 3,000 administrative regions to just over 1,000. GfK GeoMarketing's cartographers researched and digitized all these changes. "Japan is a good example of the importance of regularly updated maps when it comes to accurately displaying and analyzing business data," says Dittmann. "Maps quickly become outdated, resulting in errors in analyses if companies keep using them."

Complete object attributions for international projects
Digital maps are only as good as the labels included for their map objects. GfK GeoMarketing labels all its maps with the international names and attributions. For example, the Russia Edition additionally features labels in Cyrillic for the administrative regions and cities. This is very valuable for companies active in multiple countries and in which some employees prefer the national language, while others want to refer to the international place names. Researching the names requires a lot of expert knowledge and a significant time investment.

Achieving greater detail in high-risk areas
One of the highlights of the Asia Map Edition is its comprehensive digitization of Russia's two-digit postcode boundaries, from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean "For some business branches, maps must not only be up-to-date, but also extremely accurate," explains Dittmann. "A good example is the reinsurance industry, which needs highly detailed maps of coastlines in order to assess risk. We therefore placed a lot of emphasis on creating pristine coastline boundaries."

The GfK Asia Map Edition 2009 features digital postcode and administrative maps for 48 Asian countries. The maps are available in all standard digital map formats. (Click for larger view.)

The United Arab Emirates map data included in the edition show the new man-made Palm Islands along the coast of Dubai. Equally noteworthy are the ultra-sharp coastlines for Japan that support companies in the assessment of the risk of damages from natural disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes, typhoons and volcanic eruptions.

Sound planning basis for one of the world's most diverse and dynamic markets It's no secret that Asia's markets will continue to grow in the coming decades. Forward-thinking companies need reliable digital maps in order to successfully position themselves in these promising markets. With 600 maps that provide up-to-date and comprehensive coverage of 48 Asian countries, GfK GeoMarketing's Asia Map Edition is a springboard for companies planning operations in Asia and a valuable planning tool for companies already there.

GfK GeoMarketing offers digital postcode and administrative maps for 240 countries worldwide. Comprehensive and up-to-date postcode maps give companies an important cartographic basis for detailed analysis and planning.

GfK GeoMarketing encourages interested users to examine the quality of these maps for themselves by downloading free map samples.

Published Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Written by Cornelia Lichtner and Christopher Guider

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